Following the death of the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the University of Jos Governing Board, Prince Tony Momoh in February, there has been confusion as to how to proceed with the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor for the university. This is coming as the five-year tenure of Prof. Sebastian Maimako expired and the search for his replacement had begun before the death of the pro-chancellor. With the fates of the two offices intricately tied, there are lots of jostling by various interests groups to take advantage of the lacuna, as Daily Trust reports.
Since the death in February of Prince Tony Momoh, the Governing Council Chairman and Pro-Chancellor of the University of Jos, Plateau State, there has been intense lobbying for his replacement.
This lobbying has been characterized with grumblings and disquiet occasioned by the fact that the tenure of the vice-chancellor of the university, Prof. Sebastian Maimako, is over. Maimoko was elected in 2015 and after completing his five years in office is due for replacement.
The fate of the two positions are tied, as the Chairman of the Council will conduct the screening of the new vice-chancellor. This means that various candidates have a strong interest in who becomes the chairman of the council.
Besides, other appropriate steps in the selection of the Vice-Chancellor are yet to be properly followed, heightening the lacuna.
This has left many staff, lecturers, students and stakeholders alike confused over the situation, as our correspondent found out.
However, section 4(2), (3), & (4) of the University Act, obtained by our correspondent, states that where a vacancy occurs in the office of a vice-chancellor, the governing council shall, “Advertise the vacancy in a reputable journal or widely read newspaper in Nigeria specifying the qualities of the person who may apply for the post. The terms and conditions of service applicable to the post, and thereafter draw up a shortlist of suitable candidates for the post for consideration.
“The council shall constitute a search team consisting of a member of the council who is not a member of the Senate as chairman. The council shall constitute two members of the senate who are not members of the council, one of whom shall be a professor; two members of the congregation who are not members of the council, one of whom shall be a professor.
“Also, the council shall identify and nominate for consideration suitable persons who are not likely to apply for the post of their own volition because they feel it is not proper to do so. There shall also be a joint council and senate selection board consisting of the pro-chancellor as chairman, two members of the council who are not members of the senate and two members of the senate who are professors but not members of the search team.”
The late chairman of the governing council, Prince Tony Momoh had, in line with the provision of the University Act, commenced the selection process leading to the constitution of the search team, but he, unfortunately, died before the completion of the search.
It was gathered that the vice-chancellor then summoned a meeting of the council and led the process that culminated in the appointment of a council member to chair that specific meeting.
It was further learnt that the issue of constituting a selection board was brought up as an AOB (Any Other Business) when some council members had already left after exhausting most of the items on the agenda.
Some members then questioned the legality of constituting such a board, even as the vice-chancellor took over the proceedings of constituting the board as well as nominations for the chairmanship and two other members of the council.
However, the Act gives exclusive power to the president to appoint a pro-chancellor who should chair the selection board.
Section 4 (3) of the University Act provides that the pro-chancellor shall be the chairman of the selection board. It also provides that the selection board is not a meeting of council to warrant an acting VC being appointed.
All these intrigues have been stirring worry in the university, and those who spoke to Daily Trust said if the issues are not addressed before the selection of the new vice-chancellor, it could snowball into a major controversy.
A source said even though there are several interests in the vice-chancellor position, everything should still follow the proper procedure to avoid any crisis or subsequent litigation.
The source said soon people would begin to openly express their vexation and it will undoubtedly affect the academics, the ongoing examination as well as the general wellbeing of the school.
The source called on the authorities to intervene and save the situation before the worst/unexpected happens, adding that aspiration for the vice-chancellor position as well as the vested interest of any godfather should not override the ultimate focus and goal of the university.
A student who spoke on condition of anonymity said there have been too many crises in the university system lately across the country, and any attempt to add another internal crisis in the university (of Jos) will not augur well and will only complicate the already tensed situation.
The student begged all interested parties to sheath their swords and allow peace to reign so that they could continue their academic activities smoothly and those waiting to graduate will do so and go for their one year compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
A staff of the university said the matter is very simple, only if the correct procedure would be followed, stressing that some persons have vowed not to allow any illegality in the process of selecting the vice-chancellor because it would send the wrong signal and set a bad precedence for the future.
The staff said he has interacted with some of the stakeholders and the aspirants alike and they have expressed their displeasure over what is currently playing out, and that many of them have promised to speak out in protest.
Surely, intriguing time lies ahead, and it is only a matter of time before the situation deteriorates and explodes as the disquiet rages on in various quarters. Nonetheless, many groups and individuals have begun canvassing support for their candidates across different channels, media and social media.
Those aspiring for the vice-chancellor position include Paul Mamza (ABU Zaria), Wonang David (Unijos), Bernard Matur (Unijos), Dimis Mailafia (Unijos) Wannang Noel (Unijos), Ashom Maisamari (UniAbuja), Daniel Dabi (Unijos) Sylvester Shikyil (Unijos) and Yiltok Simon (Unijos).
Others are Uriah Alex Lar (Unijos), Isuwa Jurmang (Unijos), Tanko Ishaya (Unijos), Patricia Lar (Unijos), Pam Yakubu (Unijos), Adoyi Onoja (NSU Keffi), Stephen Mallo (Unijos), Dung Pam Sha (UniJos) and Eugene A. (NSU Keffi).